Estate Planning Services
When Is the Right Time to Develop an Estate Plan?
If you have assets, death benefits, children, or family members with special needs for whom you would like to provide after your death, then NOW is the right time for you to develop your estate plan. If none of the above apply to you, then you may not need an estate plan.
What Does a Lawyer Do When Planning an Estate?
It is our intention to help you plan the designation of beneficiaries and titling of property, while we draft estate planning documents, such as Wills and Trusts, so as to minimize the need for Probate and the tax and attorney fee expense of your estate upon death, while maximizing the benefits to your heirs. In doing so, the lawyers at Greta Hoffman & Associates will help you determine what documents are necessary for you to provide for your loved ones while protecting yourself until death. Other documents that may be drafted are Powers of Attorney or Health Care Directives which appoint representatives to manage financial and medical decision making for you prior to your death. The drafting of these documents does not necessarily negate the need for Probate, but often times limits the amount of assets that need to be probated, which typically gets the assets to your beneficiaries faster, and with less expense.
What if I Just Need a Change to My Estate Plan?
Bring any prior documents that you have drafted to your consultation. Our lawyers will consult with you to determine what you want to accomplish with your current estate plan, and will review your current documents to determine whether any changes are necessary. No unnecessary drafting will be done.
Whom Should I Name as My Executor, POA, Trustee, Guardian, Health Care Surrogate?
Typically people name family members:
- Executor to manage their estate;
- Power of Attorney to handle their financial and/or medical decisions before death;
- Trustee to manage funds held for their children, family members, or other beneficiaries after death;
- Guardian to care for their children after death;
- Health Care Surrogates to make life or death medical decisions.
For any of these positions that deal with money, we recommend that you appoint someone with strong moral judgment and financial skill. If you do not have a family member to manage these tasks for you, consider close friends, business associates, bankers, lawyers, or other persons with whom you have a good relationship. It is also helpful to name one or two alternates for each position in case your first choice is unable to serve for some reason. Naming alternates gives a longer life to your documents, and prevents the Court from having to choose someone for you.
For all of these positions, it is important to have a discussion with your appointee as to how you want them to manage things for you, especially regarding healthcare and child-rearing decisions.
What Happens If I Don’t Plan My Estate?
If you have property at the time of your death, and die intestate (without a Will), your estate will need to be Probated, where the Court will appoint someone as Administrator of the Estate. Preference is given to whomever the family agrees upon; however, sometimes a person’s credit history can be an issue for purposes of getting bonded. In a Will, bonding can be waived.
Without a Will, the Court will force the distribution of property in the Will according to the laws of descent, KRS 391.010-391.030. The only way to ensure the direction of your assets after death to the persons of your choosing is through the drafting of a Will or Trust.